Posted by Peter Thompson

III John 9-14

Who Should I Follow?

INTRODUCTION:  I watched a video the other day, you may have seen it.  The video highlighted a study on human conformity (Woman in a waiting room, standing because everyone else did).  Our nature as people is to follow other people.  We understand that ultimately we should be following God.  In doing so, we will choose people that we believe are following God.  Here John addresses a problem in the church where Gaius works.  The people there are having trouble figuring out whom to follow and many of them are making the wrong decision.  God would have you to follow godly people that are following him (Read v. 11 again).  How do you decide who those people are?  Two example leaders are given here.  From the leadership of these two men you can understand who to follow and who not to follow.

  1. DO NOT FOLLOW THOSE WHO MAKE THEMSELVES DICTATORS (V. 9)
  2. John writes to Gaius that he tried to write a letter to the church
  3. But they did not read his letter
  4. Because this man Diotrephes would not receive them
  5. The word receive here literally means to not pay any attention to
  6. Diotrephes decided that the church would not pay any attention to John and probably the other apostles here
  7. Now what gives Diotrephes the right to make that decision for the church?
  8. How does this one man have the authority to reject a letter and really any association at all with an apostle of Jesus Christ?
  9. John says the Diotrephes loves to have the preeminence among them
  10. In other words when the church there meets, Diotrephes wants and craves loves to have the preeminence
  11. The words love to have the preeminence actually come from one Greek word
  12. The word means to desire to be first, greatest and to order others
  13. Diotrephes had a desire and successfully appointed himself the ruler of the church
  14. In v. 11 John writes that Gaius should not follow this evil
  15. You should not follow people who make themselves the dictator, make themselves the leader, love to be the leader
  16. Look what Jesus said in Matt. 20:25-28 “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
  17. The lost people have rulers that rule over them in their groups, people looking for power and influence
  18. Jesus said, among Christians there should not be any such thing, “it will not be so among you.”
  19. The greatest people among us are suppose to be those that minister or serve
  20. Those that are willing to put themselves under everybody else
  21. Follow those people, not the ones that make themselves leaders and dictators
  22. DO NOT FOLLOW THOSE THAT CRUSH OTHERS FOR POWER (V. 10)
  23. John is very offended by this man’s actions
  24. He says that when he comes he will remember what this man has done
  25. At the very least John is going to confront this man
  26. Because this man has done things that are not pleasing to God
  27. This man was taking authority in God’s church that only belongs to Christ
  28. As John talks about this man’s deeds he begins with what this man is doing to others
  29. He says that Diotrephes has been prating against him and the other apostles with malicious words
  30. The word prating has the idea of saying things that are false, saying things that are total nonsense, accusing someone falsely with no grounds or proof
  31. You can imagine the meaning of malicious-it is evil, terrible, wicked
  32. So Diotrephes is saying things that are total nonsense about John and the other apostles
  33. He is accusing them of things they did not do
  34. And he is talking about them with evil, terrible and wicked words without any kind of proof of anything that he is saying
  35. Now why would a guy like that talk bad about the apostles
  36. These are the men that Jesus Christ himself called out
  37. We see the authority that He gave them in the early churches
  38. These men learned at the feet of Jesus Christ himself
  39. All of them died serving Jesus and spreading His gospel
  40. Why would you talk bad, especially falsely about these godly men
  41. There is only one reason, he wants the power they have
  42. If he discredits them then he can be the boss, he can have the power
  43. He is tearing others down so that he can have all the power
  44. You need to be careful about these kinds of people
  45. Again John says in v. 11 not to follow this evil
  46. When someone is talking bad about other people
  47. When someone is trying to tear others down falsely
  48. It is directly against the commandment of God
  49. Thou shalt not bear false witness
  50. If a person needs that to gain power, then God did not give them their power
  51. You should not follow them
  52. DO NOT FOLLOW THOSE THAT MISUSE POWER (V. 10)
  1. The next thing John says about this man is absolutely terrible
  2. He is not content to talk bad about John and the other apostles
  3. Not only will he not pay attention to the apostles
  4. Not only will he not give them the respect they deserve
  5. Not only is he refusing their letters and not letting them talk to the church there
  6. But anybody in the church that does receive the apostles
  7. Anybody that does listen to their words
  8. Anybody that does respect them
  9. Diotrephes kicks them out of the church
  10. Now church discipline is something that Jesus commanded
  11. When someone is living in particular sins that are listed in I Corinthians chapter 5 and refuses to repent
  12. There are actions that the members of a church are suppose to take
  13. And that is another message
  14. But to use that power to get rid of people that disagree with you, is despicable and ungodly
  15. The influence that he had was unquestioned by anybody in the church
  16. In fact if you did not get in line with what this man wanted you wouldn’t be in that church for long
  17. God would not have you to follow this kind of misuse of the power that He has given
  18. God does not want his leaders using His power for their own purposes
  19. Anybody that God has placed as a leader should take great care to make sure that the power that God has given the church is used exactly like God intends for it to be used
  20. They need to be careful that they use the word of God for its intended purpose
  21. Don’t follow people that are using God given power in a way that is not pleasing to God.
  22. FOLLOW THOSE WHO HAVE AN INDISPUTABLE REPUTATION OF GODLINESS (VS. 11-12)
  23.  At the end here, John mentions a man who they should follow
  24. This man’s name is Demetrius
  25. And John says three things about him
  26. He has a good report of all-everybody that sees this man and his life says that he is a good and godly man
  27. He does the good things that God would have him to do, and everybody knows it
  28. He also has a good report of the truth itself
  29. John is talking about God’s word here, the truth
  30. This man has a good reputation with the Bible
  31. In other words when you compare his life to the word of God he still looks good
  32. The Bible testifies that this man is pleasing to God
  33. And lastly John says that he has a good reputation among the apostles
  34. They bear record that he is good, and John says that Gaius knows that what the apostles say is true
  35. So this man Demetrius has a godly reputation that is witnessed by everybody, God’s word and the true spiritual leaders of the time
  36. This is the man that John points to as the one that is of God-the one that they should follow
  37. This man is following God
  38. And the people in the church should follow him as he follows God
  39. You should find people that are following God to follow
  40. How do you know who they are?
  41. Because they have a godly reputation
  42. Everybody knows they are following God
  43. More importantly the word of God testifies that they are godly
  44. They are living according to God’s word
  45. And you should never discount the testimony of the leaders that you know to be true
  46. If somebody that you know is godly, and has served God for a long time and has always told  you the truth about God’s word is skeptical of someone else you need to take that into account
  47. Find these people that have a good reputation, that are living according to God’s word, that are approved of the other Godly leaders that you know.
  48. Follow them, as they follow God

CONCLUSION:  Who have you been following?  Who will you follow in the future?  There are people that God would have you to follow and people that God would have you to leave behind.  Don’t follow the dictators who put themselves above people and God.  Don’t follow the people who crush others to keep their power.  Don’t follow those that misuse power.  Only follow those that have a reputation for following God, according to men, according to the Bible, and according to proven spiritual leaders.